Saturday, December 31, 2011

Something Sardar Patel said

The then- Director of the Intelligence Bureau of the (British) Government of India, Sir Norman Percival Arthur Smith, prepared an assessment in January 1947 on the situation in India.  It was rather gloomy.  Smith thought that India needed a strong center which would not be conceded by the Muslims; the weak center envisioned by the Cabinet Mission Plan "carries within itself the seeds of disruption.  It is difficult to foresee a joint policy in foreign affairs, and consequently in defence and finance".   Smith thought that the Indian leadership was too inept to overcome these inherent difficulties and therefore Pakistan was very likely; though Pakistan would not advantage the Indian Muslim.  Smith thought that the Congress should establish a strong center in the areas of Hindu preponderance, and exclude the North West, but was doubtful of their ability to do even that much.

This note, we are told was sent to the Private Secretaries to Atlee, Alexander and Sir S. Cripps.  Of course the Viceroy Wavell and others saw it as well.  The purpose of recording this note however is for the excerpt below.

The Transfer of Power 1942-47, editors Mansergh and Moon,
Volume IX, #304, pages 542-544

(h)  If Congress were wise, they would either attempt to dissolve by a psychological approach the psychological mistrust which exists or they would establish a strong Centre for areas of Hindu preponderance and to the exclusion of the N-West.  But I doubt if Congress is wise enough to do either of these things.
(l) The psychological approach which I would commend to Congress would have to be one of great generosity—an offer, if necessary, of one over parity.   I suggested this to Sardar Patel and told him, moreover, that any attempt to force the Muslims would result, through the disintegration of the police and Army, in the loss of N.W. India.   His reply was that, if I thought that generosity would placate the Muslim Oliver Twist, I did not understand either the Muslim mind or the situation.   With which sentiment I am tempted to agree

N.P.A. Smith

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jinnah - longevity

Alan Campbell Johnson in "Mission with Mountbatten" reports on an interesting conversation he had with Robert Stimson of the B.B.C..  This conversation was on December 22, 1947, which was soon after an interview Stimson had with Jinnah.

Stimson's general impression was that, subject to four great queries, Pakistan was perhaps a stronger entity than some of the critics recognised.   Those queries were: whether she could avoid war; whether Jinnah had long to live (in Stimson's opinion he looked fitter than in August, and he was himself at pains to say that he hoped to be operating for at least twelve years); whether she could secure economic support, and whether she could retain any of her Hindus.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Court's powers

The Pakistani judiciary granted the Governor-General the power to dissolve the Constituent Assembly.

Jinnah's powers

Yasser Latif Hamdani makes the claim
There are many myths that are woven around Jinnah’s period as Governor-General of Pakistan, one of which was forwarded by Campbell Johnson who inaccurately claimed in his book Mission With Mountbatten that Jinnah applied for powers under the Ninth Schedule of the Government of India Act 1935 (GOIA 1935). It was the Ninth Schedule of the GOIA 1935 that strengthened the Governor-General and gave him powers to ensure passage of bills in a form that had been recommended by the Governor-General. From July 19, 1947 onwards, the Ninth Schedule was no longer available.
(Also see this on the Cabinet Mission Plan web-site)

Pakistan and Section 93 of the Government of India Act 1935

Yasser Latif Hamdani has articles (1, 2, 3) in the Daily Times of Pakistan, on the vexed question of how democratic in spirit Jinnah was around 1947. These articles were provoked by a journalist (probably Najam Sethi, Aapas Ki Baat, December 14, 2011, 1, 2) who wrote:

A leading journalist, who is one of the finest journalists in my opinion, recently levelled four accusations at Jinnah, which he described as the reason Pakistani democracy has not flourished. First, that Jinnah chose to be the Governor-General instead of prime minister; second, that he concentrated power in his own hands; third, that he dismissed the NWFP [now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] Assembly; and fourth, that Jinnah chose Urdu as the ‘national’ language.

The purpose of this note is to examine one of the claims made in the Hamdani article and show it to be likely to be wrong.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Khaled Ahmed: Muslim view of 'decline'

Khaled Ahmed.

The Muslim resistance to mutation as a project of survival and its literalist insistence on a permanently settled dogma has forced them to think of changing the world. The idea is to change the world, not change according to the world. There are two doctrines that spring from this feeling of decline: ‘dawa’, that is, proselytising non-Muslims till they can’t think differently and thus contribute to the universal consensus based on unrevised tenets; and jihad, by which the Muslims mean war.

Jihad is an abstraction and peace-loving Muslims often explain it not as war but as efforts made in the way of achieving obedience to Allah. John Esposito, a British author considered sympathetic to Islam, once tried to register the peaceful meaning of jihad on a BBC discussion with a broad spectrum of Muslim scholars from the Islamic world. He was shocked to hear that the dominant Quranic sense of jihad was ‘qital’ (homicide) not ‘juhud’ (effort). Some new Muslim authors have recommended that jihad be added to the Five Pillars of Islam which are: ‘Kalima’, namaz, zakat, fasting during Ramazan and Hajj.

Monday, December 12, 2011